What's the best commercial CRPG series?

Matt Barton's picture
Ultima
38% (8 votes)
Wizardry
5% (1 vote)
Might & Magic
14% (3 votes)
Elder Scrolls
10% (2 votes)
Final Fantasy
14% (3 votes)
SSI's Gold Box Games (Pool of Radiance, etc.)
14% (3 votes)
Eye of the Beholder
0% (0 votes)
The Bard's Tale
0% (0 votes)
Phantasie (this one's for Bill)
5% (1 vote)
Quest for Glory
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 21

Comments

Weefz
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Joined: 01/22/2007
Logical Sequels?
Matt Barton wrote:

That's a good point. Even if I was to consider those games as CRPGs, I don't see them as the logical sequels of the Baldur's Gate I and II. I mean, c'mon, that's like saying that Fallout Tactics is Fallout III, or lumping the Heroes of M&M in with the M&M proper series. Just don't see it; they're too different.

Logical sequels in terms of game design and mechanics - no. If that's the criteria then I'd have to call up BG, BG2, Icewind Dale, Icewind Dale 2 and Planescape: Torment. And as for an earlier claim by someone else that BG doesn't have enough of an impact - would NeverWinter Nights and NWN2 exist had it not been for the popularity of the BG games? Obviously you couldn't call them a Baldur's Gate series. Infinity-Engine games, perhaps? It's no less of a relationship than SSI's Gold Box Series.

If we're talking logical successor in terms of storyline - IIRC (and I was fairly young at the time) the Gold Box games only shared an engine, or perhaps even just a visual style. Final Fantasy games are ONLY related in terms of visual style and Square/Enix (barring X and X-2, obviously). The gameplay basics are similar but the play style/interface changes significantly when you compare FF8, 10 and 12. At least PC-based BG and console-based BG:DA share the same superficial setting - much like the Elder Scrolls series.

No matter what you consider a series, they are great games. Love them all. (except for Dark Alliance - I'll admit, those two don't fit MY definition of an RPG any more than Diablo, FF or Pokémon)

--
Editor, The Average Gamer

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adamantyr
adamantyr's picture
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Joined: 01/28/2007
CRPG definition

I think the defining trait of a CRPG is the cerebral nature of the challenges. It isn't how fast you click a button or shove a joystick/thumb pad one way or another. It's how you interpret the information given to you and make judgments on the balance of resources and abilities in an encounter.

I don't consider Deus Ex (as good as it is) a CRPG because the nature of the game does involve some manual dexterity. It's fairly linear, but this is a frequent crime with many CRPG's these days. Character development does exist and define part of your strategic options, but a lot of these options are to make you better at manual dexterity tasks.

Conversely, Ultima 9 suffers from enough of these design decisions to lose the title of CRPG under this definition. I actually don't actively hate it like some Ultima fans do, but it was a definite disappointment. That and the engine is still buggy... I've tried replaying it a few times and the engine would dump back to the desktop without warning and you'd find your saved game was corrupted and useless.

Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
CRPG

That's a good point. Even if I was to consider those games as CRPGs, I don't see them as the logical sequels of the Baldur's Gate I and II. I mean, c'mon, that's like saying that Fallout Tactics is Fallout III, or lumping the Heroes of M&M in with the M&M proper series. Just don't see it; they're too different.

OTOH, I have been taking a more liberal view with what constitutes a CRPG in the book. I've basically boiled it down to whether or not the game allows the character/s to "level up" or gain new skills, and, if so, how central this is to the gameplay. Does it have random combat and some type of strategy required to make an effective character? I also take into consideration how the game itself is presented, such as manuals, game box, etc. Finally, I try to compare the game to tabletop RPGs and see if I can find enough similarities to justify it.

For instance, take Metroid. It does seem to fit many of the criteria. You get new skills and abilities as you play, and that's a very central part of the gameplay. You also play one character and don't have "lives." However, the combat is not random but entirely up to the player's skill with the controller (and reflexes). Furthermore, the game is not presented as an CRPG. Finally, there's no real "strategy" in deciding which skills and abilities to acquire; you simply get what you need at certain parts of the game. The same goes for the many shoot'em ups where you get power-ups for bigger guns or what-not. The telling thing there is that as you soon as you die, you go back to square one with a new ship and the game continues.

Deus Ex seems much closer to a CRPG in my opinion. Indeed, if you compare, say, the latter Might & Magic games or Morrowind with it, it's hard to see a clear difference. At any rate, I'd lump it in with them, though of course I'd specify that it's a FPS/CRPG hybrid.

Basically, I just try to dig in and see if the developers were obviously trying to make a CRPG, or whether it's just a passing resemblance. If I see terminology like, "dexterity" or "Hit points," I figure it's intentional.

I tell you what gets hazy are games like Gauntlet, particularly the latter games in that series. Action CRPGs? Yikes. I guess at the end of it you just have to make your own mind about some of the blurrier games.

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Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Let's refine the definition a bit...
Weefz wrote:

Baldur's Gate, BG2, BG: Dark Alliance, BG:Dark Alliance 2?

Do you really want to consider the Dark Alliance games RPG's? I mean, my wife and I had fun beating the first game, but really, it's more like a mix of Diablo and Gauntlet in my opinion than a true RPG, particularly CRPGs. In my opinion if a game relies more on arcade-style action for success than strategy, it doesn't count.

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
======================================

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Weefz
Offline
Joined: 01/22/2007
Baldur's Gate, BG2, BG: Dark

Baldur's Gate, BG2, BG: Dark Alliance, BG:Dark Alliance 2?

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yakumo9275
yakumo9275's picture
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Joined: 12/26/2006
mmm

Well I count Icewind Dale games as being part of the Baldurs Gate series (i know, its not the same type of game... i still count them together).

or magic candle series (since it had 4 games). I thought Magic candle as a series was far better than bards tale as a series. Bards tale was the same game 3 times (as you can argue was the same with the first 4 wizardry games).

wishfull thinking would have been nice to have a questron entry (questron1/questron 2/legacy ancients/legend of black silver), I know, I know, its really two different series but it feels like 1.

thats just my 2c

-- Stu --

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Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Series or not?
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Well, also the criteria was a minimum of three entries in the series, and it hasn't been established that expansions qualify as an entry in the series...

That's precisely why I didn't put them on the list. As far as I'm concerned, there are two Baldur's Gate, Diablo, Fallout, and Diablo games. Some pretty try to stretch by using expansions, or in the case of Fallout, talk about Wasteland or Fallout: Tactics. I don't agree. If we stretch the concept of "series" too far, it becomes useless as a word.

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Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Criteria
yakumo9275 wrote:
Weefz wrote:

Didn't vote since Baldur's Gate isn't in the list.

well, I think Baldurs Gate is too new to have any lasting legacy or real impact yet.

-- Stu --

Well, also the criteria was a minimum of three entries in the series, and it hasn't been established that expansions qualify as an entry in the series...

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
======================================

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yakumo9275
yakumo9275's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/26/2006
Legacy
Weefz wrote:

Didn't vote since Baldur's Gate isn't in the list.

well, I think Baldurs Gate is too new to have any lasting legacy or real impact yet.

-- Stu --

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Weefz
Offline
Joined: 01/22/2007
Didn't vote

Didn't vote since Baldur's Gate isn't in the list.

Oh, and yes, we do play CRPGs in Europe. Or at least, we did when they were still being developed. Bit trickier to find western-style ones these days. While I play Final Fantasy and Zelda (and recently, pokémon) I still refuse to recognise them as RPGs.

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